Little hot knives, salt baths, and many died.
And some had voices that were nasal, flat
or squeaky. Some grew spindly thin, some fat
and some were glorious. Their special pride
was in the notes that poured out and sustained
trilled ever higher yet had strength as well
the voice of Orpheus overwhelming Hell
breaking its gates. And if the hot knives pained
cutting the boy, the man surely forgot
what he was sold to. Was the shower of coin
and praise well worth the aching in the groin,
Long cramping legs? We can’t imagine what
it cost in pain, frustration, anger, tears
to bring those crystal high notes to our ears.